The Colorado Rockies lineup found its groove over the past seven days, averaging seven runs a game as the team went 5-2 and is on the cusp of winning its third series in a row. However, the team continues to find itself in close games down the stretch, with eight of the past 14 games decided by one run or needing extra innings (mot mutually exclusive categories, though). While this is a caused by a myriad factors, not having a power bat off the bench has kept the Rockies from getting a strategic pinch hit in these close games.
As discussed in Thursday's Rockpile, the Rockies rotation may see some changes soon, with Roy Oswalt inching closer back to the majors. The Rockies bench also needs a little bit of an adjustment. With the normal starting lineup, the bench consists of: Jordan Pacheco, Eric Young Jr., Jonathan Herrera, and Yorvit Torrealba. Those four are a combined 8-for-39 with Yorvit (3-for-4) and Jordan (4-for-15) providing all but one of the hits from the right side of the plate. That means the standard left-handed options off the bench are pinch-hitting a combined 1-for-20.
In years past, the Rockies have had a strong presence on their bench to help with late inning heroics. From John Vander Wal and Sean Smith to Jason Giambi (except in 2012), the team has had a hitter that the other manager had to account for in late inning decisions. That person doesn't currently exist, except when one of the regulars has a night off, especially from the left side of the plate. The Rockies can choose to stay with the status quo (hoping Young and Scrappy improve in this area), bring someone up from the minors, or look to make a trade before the deadline.
With the current bench players not getting the job done, the first instinct is to look to AAA for an answer. When the Rockies have chosen to have thirteen position players, they have tried to fill the bench lefty bat role with Charlie Blackmon. Charlie did ok in limited time in the role, going one for one as a pinch hitter while hitting .240 in twelve games played and provided good defense. He could be the solution for the bench as this is his third season spending time in the majors and, as he turns 27 in a few weeks, the Rockies need to decide if he can be a useful option for them.
A second option from AAA would be Tyler Colvin. Many thought he would break spring training with the team and I incorrectly predicted that he would be in the big leagues by the end of April. He started off hot in AAA, had a bit of a slump, but is now back to raking against minor league pitching as reported yesterday by Purple Row's Kyle Domingos. At 27 years old, he has already spent two full seasons in the majors and parts of two others, so he should be able to handle a bench role. Like Blackmon, he brings a plus glove that can be used in all three outfield spots.
At 24 years old, a less likely alternative is Corey Dickerson. While he has shown the ability to hit at every level, and is arguably the best hitter on a talented AAA team (.349/.389/.620), he would be a young player trying to fill the difficult role of pinch hitter. As one of the leading members of the Corey fan club, I would love to see him get a chance, but he needs regular plate appearances and probably more time practicing his defense. If he keeps hitting though, the Rockies may not have a choice but to give him a chance.
The other alternative is to get a player via trade. There are a lot of American League teams that will find themselves out of contention and willing to get rid of batters filling the DH role. Players like Adam Dunn (too big of a contract), Jason Giambi (please not again), and Carlos Pena (current contract is one year, $2.9M).
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on which direction the Rockies should take. Now on to the good, bad, and ugly for the week.
The Good-Nolan Arenado
Nolan continued his great defense this week, but brought his bat back into the mix as well. In this first week of June he is hitting .333/.333/.533, including the walk-off home run last night to go along with three doubles. This has brought his average back up to .250 on the season.
Hitting the walk-off caused him to beat out Todd Helton for this spot as Todd also showed a resurgence this week, hitting .360/.407/.640. Having these two to support Cargo and Tulo make this offense very dangerous.
The BadThe Great-Carlos Gonzalez
On a week where the team went 5-2, there is too much good to talk about. Cargo made a bit of history this week as the only player to ever hit three home runs in one game, go 0 for 6 in the next game, and then hit two triples in the game after that. We may have to check with the folks at Elias, but I am pretty sure that this has never happened in the history of baseball. Overall the week, he has hit .321/..406/.964 with four home runs and three triples. If people don't put this guy on their all-star ballots then they don't know baseball.
He also barely beat out his compatriot for honors this week as Troy Tulowitzki hit .423/.483/.769 but "only" managed three home runs.
The Ugly-Rob Scahill's 'relief'
In his first two stints with the team this year, Rob did fairly well. This time though, he has sandwiched three scoreless outings with two horrendous ones. Back on May 29th, he gave up three runs in the ninth, which made Tulo's home run in the bottom of the inning meaningless in a six to three loss. Then, last night, he didn't get an out while giving up five earned runs on a hit batter, a single, two home runs, and a double.
Have a good weekend and as always, GO ROCKIES!